NORFOLK -- No one likes to lose power during a storm, but for hospitals, it's critical the electricity stays on.

On Friday, crews were replacing the old generators at Sentara Norfolk General and raising them to lessen the chance of water damage.

While there's never been flooding in the current location, which is four feet below grade, hospital officials say problems in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina spurred them to move ahead with the $2.5 million project.

'Then, of course, there are this week's hospital evacuations in New York, which have us saying, 'There but for the grace of God, go we,'' said spokesman Dale Gauding.

The new generators have been four-hour tested for reliability and contractors weree changing over cables and circuits to transfer service from the old units to the new ones.

'You don't open a book and order this. This was engineered for us,' said Larry Smith, director of Facility Services.

The new generators will be raised to 21 feet above grade in a different part of the hospital, he said.

Gauding added that Sentara's newer facilities in Hampton Roads have state-of-the-art emergency equipment in more protected positions.

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